Appreciate More

I appreciate hearing the rain through all the open windows.

I appreciate feeling so much love in my house.

I appreciate that the kittens meditate with me every morning.

I appreciate breathing in the silence.

I appreciate taking baths in the morning.

I appreciate the smell of rain on the sidewalk.

I appreciate that I love spending time with my hubby.

I appreciate having Keeks curl up with me.

I appreciate hearing Keeks laugh.

I appreciate curling up with warm kittens.

I appreciate drinking warm water.

I appreciate the cool wind outside.

I appreciate feeling my heart overflowing with love.

I appreciate having faith.

I appreciate watching the curtain billow in the open window.

I appreciate the anticipation of having my hubby walk in the door.

I appreciate the smell of clean clothes.

 

Duh!

Oh my gosh! So I was talking to my sister this morning and describing a situation that had happened recently where I felt really unseen in my step-momming role. It’s been so hard in so many ways! Too often when people hear the word STEPMOM (dum dum dummmmmmmm) they assume it’s some woman hiding in the shadows with no opinion or is at least so emotionally disconnected from the kids that she doesn’t participate in any of their upbringing.

That’s exactly how my stepmom was!

But that’s not at all my experience!! Partly because the kids mom is so emotionally void, and communication deficient, I came in to MAKE UP FOR HER. In so many ways it’s been extremely dis-empowering.

One day maybe I’ll write a  book about what I’ve learned. 

But for now …. what if I find other women like me and create a support group? I mean, why not? I would have benefited so much from a group of women that aren’t gathering to BASH their husbands or the ex–wife’s, but to actively work together to find solutions.

I know that for me, I have started to feel much better about myself since changing my definition of my role.

Maybe there are women out there that need this group. Woa. I’ve often wondered why I’ve gone through all of this. Maybe I can help people after all…

There has got to be women out there that are in similar situations and want to feel more empowered, more IN CONTROL of their lives.

Opinions Beliefs Baggage Oh My

So this may come as a surprise, but I had no idea I am so damn opinionated. I guess being around kids must bring it out, all these hidden feelings and beliefs about how kids should be raised, how people SHOULD BE treated, how CONSEQUENCES SHOULD go, how lessons SHOULD BE learned, etc.

Obviously being so highly opinionated in a very unpredictable, sometimes dis-empowering, confusing, sometimes overwhelming situation just makes it all the more difficult.

But is the situation the problem? 

Or is it because I’ve come into the situation with all kinds of my OWN baggage and crap and beliefs and opinions and I’ve felt like it’s
my DUTY!
My JOB!
My NEED to sprinkle them along until everyone else
believes,
acts,
reacts,
and chooses the way I think they SHOULD.

Oh shit.

This feels very very yucky to write, but unfortunately it may be true.

Now, I know I can’t just allow people to take advantage of me anymore. That’s something I have definitely gotten under my belt.

And yet, I also can’t
MANDATE,
or CONTROL,
or DEMAND things to be different.

So maybe it doesn’t need to be so black and white? 

The more that I sit and meditate and concentrate on my breathing, allow myself to relax, I am finding the space within. The small whispered gap that says it doesn’t need to be either extreme.

I am not here to be hyper vigilant for everyone else, running around teaching, and validating, and predicting and researching and making sure everyone has what they need, and everything is running smoothly. All the while slowly (or freaking quickly) falling apart.

I’m also not here to hide away in my meditation closet with my fingers in my ears totally unaware of what’s going on while my power slips through the door and I’m left a shell of a human.

Wow. I just realized that BOTH EXTREMES leave me only a portion of who I really am.

Ha! How freakin’ fascinating!

With either extreme, I lose myself.

Like I’ve mentioned a zillion times before, I know I am here in this place, in this space, in this house with these humans for many reasons. But it’s not TO CHANGE THEM the way I thought it was. Oh gawd I actually did.

It’s to change me.

  • Can I allow the world to move as it will?
  • Can I allow people to make their own choices, minus me JUMPING IN TO SAVE THE DAY?
  • Can I allow life to teach the lessons it naturally teaches? And if they are learned, great. If they are not, that’s okay as well.
  • Can I still speak my truth, desires, and boundaries and make sure that I am following through with them to take care of ME in the very best way?

Because (here’s the clencher) I have a ton of my own lessons to learn, and don’t need to be so concerned with what everyone else is learning!!!

DING! DING! DING!!

It’s not my job to be LIFE’S LESSON TEACHER. ahhahahahh Sheesh. Sometimes just jotting down my feelings is the best way I can find out what is really going on.

I can learn to swing from tree to tree, trusting that life gives everyone what they (and I) need to learn.

Just stay in your own lane, Jackie, stay. in. your. own. lane.

 

 

What the HELL is my role

The biggest question of my life right now,…

What is my role????

I’ve told myself I am confused about this question because

I am a stepmom.

Right away the words STEPMOM fill the room with hazy smoke, the kind where you can’t see 2 feet in front of you, and you suddenly have no idea where you even are. Just THE WORD is full of questions. 

But then for some of us, the role gets even stickier.

I’m not ‘just a stepmom.’

In fact, I am the kids main emotional support. I am the instigator, I am the listening ear, I am the one figuring things out, communicating with teachers, connecting the dotes, finding therapists, locating new schools, discussing, giving consequences, and driving all over the place.

It’s a strange dynamic because I enjoy being a part of a family. I love being relied on and knowing that they can trust me to follow through.

But,… I’m not the mom. I’m just a stepmom.

Right?

Am I only doing these extra things because their MOM can’t? No,… that’s not entirely  true. My love for them continuously grows the more I do. The more I learn about who they are and what they need, the more I want to show up.

Because I love them.

And then again there are times when I get super annoyed that their ACTUAL mom doesn’t know even a morsel about them. I get angry, and I feel taken advantage of, and I want to step down.

But what would I be stepping down from when my ROLE was never established in the first place?

What would I do if I ‘stepped down?’

Who would fill these roles if I didn’t?

So I go back and forth between feeling obligated and then really wanting to show up. Sometimes I have lots of energy for it and I feel empowered and strong. Other times I’m seething with anger and want to scream at everyone.

My feelings go back and forth, just like the hazy, muddy, slightly skewed title of ‘stepmom.’

I was thinking about this today as I was doing yoga.

MY ROLE is all over the place and nowhere and has no definition and is yet all encompassing. I was starting to get anxious just thinking about it.

But then I realized something else.

Why am I so special?

I mean, am I the ONLY one that doesn’t have a clearly DEFINED role?

I’ve been so caught up in my STEPMOM identity and what that means or doesn’t mean, that I didn’t give myself a chance to check out everyone else.

Maybe the reason this has been so confusing for me, is that we ALL seem to have some weird idea that our ROLES, any of them, should be clearly defined and explained.

We must feel like we SHOULD know exactly what it means to be a good wife, or good friend, or great sister or daughter, or excellent employee.

We SHOULD have learned what the parameters are, what is expected, what isn’t, how we can EXCEL, etc.

The more I think about it, there isn’t one single thing in life that is surrounded by clearly created black and white boundaries and definitions, right?

What if the very concept of ROLE is just bullshit?

What if it completely depends on who the person is and their intention for how they want to show up in the world? Wow. That just took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Seriously, I felt them just fall.

What if I don’t need to do ANYTHING to perfect my ROLE. 

What if I just get to be Jackie? I can do more or less depending on what I feel, but I don’t need to have all the answers, and I certainly don’t need to FEEL like I have to do anything. I’ve just decided while writing this that my only requirement is that I’ll do everything with lots of love. Love for the kids, and my husband, and his ex-wife, and my family, and my friends,…

But most importantly, I can have a lot of love for myself, and let myself OFF THE ROLE HOOK!

 

The Power of Being Seen

I told my stepson this summer that I was going to start giving him more attention for things he does that we APPRECIATE. Now, when you read that you may think that we must be a couple of strict, picky, parents. We’re not. But especially with two separate households, the kids can pick up on a lot of habits that wouldn’t be my choice. ahah I’m laughing to myself as I read this. No doubt in my mind that I’ve viewed ‘my choices’ for their lives as the ‘best choice.’

Anyway, I noticed over the summer that he was used to getting more attention for being disruptive, impatient, zoning out, and not following through. I think it sort of became a habit for us to notice and point out those things, so of course it only kept him bringing those attributes on even stronger. I suddenly saw it all for the first time, and made a promise that from now on we were going to notice all the wonderful loving things he does instead.

I may have already written about this, I don’t remember. I haven’t read back on my past blog posts. If I did, bear with me, this leads into where I’m actually headed. ahhah

Back to the story: He was surprised, and could hardly make eye contact when I started complimenting him so often. And I gotta admit, it wasn’t easy at first. I found little things and mentioned them to him. I said things like, ‘Wow, I appreciate that you moved out of the way when that person was walking right in front of you. That shows how aware you are…’ or ‘I’m grateful that you let me see what you’re working on. I love that you want to share things that are important to you.’

After about a day of this, he started to change. A little at a time he began showing up differently. He started using the manners I had asked him to use, he began putting his napkin on his lap in a restaurant, he even brought us kind little gifts that showed he was thinking of us.

He is one week away from starting at his new school, and has already began his computer programming classes, and he has transformed. I feel like I’m getting to know this precious being for the first time. For the past week, as we are putting him to bed, he looks up at me and says, ‘So what was your favorite part of the day for you?’ and ‘What are you most looking forward to?’ He’s courteous and playful and silly and happy and sharing his feelings. Last night I sat on the couch wrapped in my robe with his little head resting on my shoulder. He kept reaching for my hand to hold. I had no idea this little guy was so loving, so kind, so generous and thoughtful.

Isn’t it funny? We always assume that when a kid is ‘acting out,’ they need to learn to be BETTER to be DIFFERENT. But what if we just need to see them more clearly? Because when he’s getting his needs met, he WANTS to be kind, and helpful, and even patient.

Even beyond him, I’m loving the transformation with me. He’s only responding to the changes I’ve decided to make, and it’s completely transforming the way he sees the world and the way I see him.

Ahhhh! Love this parenting thingy.

My Life as a Bonus Mom

This all used to be really hard. In my head, these two little beings already had a mom and a dad and I was this new person swimming somewhere in the middle of everything. I didn’t know what I was doing and constantly felt like I didn’t have a place.

For so long I did not see myself as a mother. I felt like more like an imposter, a projected image of what I thought I should be and yet having no clue at all. I also felt that they would never love me as much as their ‘real parents.’

I was embarrassed that ‘real’ parents would see me as a fake mom or that I just couldn’t possibly understand what it means to be someone’s mother.

But I held on.
I breathed.
I asked for help.
I believed deep inside that this must be for a reason. I must be here for a reason.

And then, fast forward 5+ years and here I sit a completely changed woman.

Without a doubt, I have become a mother.

I have rocked both of them when they have been in tears.
I tell them no, respectfully.
We have worked through some really really tough situations together.
Sometimes I have to remember to be kind.
They roll their eyes when I sing 80’s ballads at the top of my lungs.
There are moments when they are upset and needing to hear something that will help. I open my mouth and pray that I will show up.
I fiercely stand up for them.
I am learning to be more patient.
I hold their hands and remind them I will always love them no matter what.
I teach them consciously but they teach me unconsciously far, far more.
My intention is to truly see them as best as I can. And when I’ve done that, I will learn how to see them even better.

I had no idea I had what it took to be a mother and yet here I am. And you know what? It doesn’t matter at all anymore that they already have a mom. Who says one mother is enough anyway?

Every single day, hard days or easy, I thank the Universe and God for this family. My ‘place’ had been waiting for me all along, and there is no ‘place’ in the world I would rather be.

What does it mean to be an artist

This morning, in the quiet, dark morning, I was drawing in my art journal and reflecting on this past week. The kids are off in Europe with their mother for a summer vacation, and you’d think I’ve had a lot of art time. But it’s been a busy week full of lots of errands, and some family time. Parts have been fulfilling experiences and others that are just,.. you know,.. necessary.

Anyway. As I was allowing my mind to relax, I realized that I feel a bit uncomfortable. I’m feeling a bit muddled right now. Starting a new piece but not sure where it’s headed or what to do next. There’s been this gnawing anxiety inside as I work out what to do and how and if it’s even going to work.

I’m not feeling like an ARTIST. 

I hate to admit that but it’s true. I feel like a fake. I feel disconnected from whatever I thought I was and it feels yucky.

In that moment I jotted down some notes for myself.

Why is it that I only feel like an artist when I have the answers? 

Because when I think about it, being an artist isn’t HAVING the answers, it’s relishing the questions. And I’ve known this, I’ve felt it in my body before. But intellectually it’s UNCOMFORTABLE to be in a murky place, am I right? In a place where I’m feeling a bit tired and listless. But am I only an artist when I’m bursting into flames of passion and frothing at the mouth with excitement? Does being an artist really come and go just as quickly as my emotions?

No! It can’t! What if all of this is being an artist. All of it. Regardless of if I am in a buzzing bursting swirling place of joy or if I’m cloudy and unsure. I’m still a creator, I’m still searching and open and moving forward.

So this was a good reminder to have faith. Faith that there is always an ebb and flow to everything, and creating is just another part of existing. So have faith. I know I can do things to foster my creativity better than I have been.

  • I can meditate at 2 pm everyday like I planned, I can make that a priority.
  • I can remind myself to feel the sensitivity of creating when I draw. To let it absorb through my skin into my heart.
  • I can breathe through the murkiness and know that the bubbling film of questions will only lead me to the answers when I am ready to receive them.
  • I can go outside and notice everything around me that aches with beauty.
  • I can remember that being an artist doesn’t mean all I do is create. An artist must live, and it’s my job to feel, to see, to acknowledge the sacredness in all of life. That must be done outside of my little art studio.
  • I can focus on being present in more moments than I have been. Being fully there, with my eyes and heart fully open. That is the kind of artist I want to be.

Maybe it’s okay to sometimes feel lost. To sometimes not feel all that we truly are. Maybe those are the moments when we get to learn more about ourselves, and our strength then we ever knew possible.

 

 

Woa I’m back

Oh my gosh I can’t believe it’s been 11 days since I’ve written! Sooo crazy.

In the past, I would have gotten really angry at myself for not sticking to what I PROMISED I WOULD,.. but now it’s a different story. It’s more like, uh okay, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog, that’s okay. I’ve been doing other things that have been equally important. I can get right back into it!

Sometimes life is a bit crazy and unexpected, and I’m learning how to go with the flow and not judge myself the way I used to. I want my life to be full of experiences and adventures, and in order for that to happen, I have to be open to the unexpected!

About a week and a 1/2 ago, my siblings and I, and my hubby and step kids all came down to Utah to surprise my mother for her 60th birthday. She had thought we were all just too busy to be with her! Ahhh!! It was soooooooooooooooo hard to keep it a secret. In fact, I so wanted to write about it on here, but there was a CHANCE that she’d read it. Ha! That would have been bad.

Anyway, we all arrived at the school my mother teaches at around 1pm. Oh my gosh all of us were so excited, we could barely hold still. My stomach was jumping all over the place. Ahhahaseriasdfvcni!!!!!!!

We managed to find someone in the office to video tape her. I am really glad we did. My brother suggested it, and it turned out to be the best idea ever. Usually I get too excited for stuff like this and just go for it, forgetting to have it recorded.

Anyway, the weather was FREEZING. It was seriously SNOWING the last week of April, so we were all huddled together in the car before walking to her portable classroom for the surprise. hahah So funny and unexpected.

The entire weekend turned out to be amazing. My mother was so surprised to see all of us, and absolutely shocked to see Tyson, my brother who flew all the way over from Germany. We gave her 30 minutes to pack and then took her to Park City for an overnight trip.

I think one of the reasons that the weekend was so awesome, was the fact that my hubby and I decided that we didn’t need it to LOOK LIKE ANYTHING. In the past, I would have gotten so wrapped up in what I THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE, that I would have been stressed out making sure it was perfect. Wow. It was so much easier to be IN THE MOMENT knowing that it was going to move whatever way it needed to. We were all engaged, and we went with the flow.

Another reason I think it was so good, was because we worked out our intentions for the trip. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of a vacation, or a birthday, or a surprise, that we can forget WHY we are even doing it. So I made sure that the whole time we were together, I was remembering my intention for being there in the first place.

To celebrate my mother.

Whatever that meant in the moment, was what I wanted to do.

For me, having the intention broad enough was helpful so I didn’t feel limited. I wasn’t needing anyone to FEEL anything. I didn’t need to ACCOMPLISH anything. I was just going to be in a place of love and celebration, and hopefully that would be easily felt. We all ended up having fun and feeling so much joy! It was seriously one of the best memories of all of us together.

This reminded me that I can do this sort of thing more often! I can set my intentions, and then practice being in the moment, allowing life to unravel the way it needs to. I felt more myself, and felt like there was space for me to just BE ME!

Ahhhh! So happy to be back on the blog!

xo

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